Field Notes


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23rd September

Last days at the Field Station–cool quiet weather, printing late season weeds and plants, working on archive issues for the Field Press journal

Summer Ink

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15th September

Noni sent some images from the Summer Ink group’s ink prints in the Field Guide notebook from midsummer…

Walking Ecologies finally

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11th September


ampitheater meadow

oriental bittersweet

finally happened!

Cherrie and I led a small group across the park inquiring about plants, their stories, histories, uses, and futures:
jewelweed and poison ivy partners
jack in the pulpit fruits found
catawpa pods
ampitheater meadow
oriental bittersweet
sweet pepperbush pods
fractals in nature
baby hawk screams
spiders in hearts

see more from Cherrie’s blog



morning work

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11th September

Some last days of foraging for objects to print in the deCordova terrain–weeds, tree leaves, tree fruits, a few flowers…  I’ll be deinstalling in a couple of weeks, taking the Field Station down, putting the flatpack built elements into the studio to begin the long work of reconfiguring the Station into a Press, archiving the many threads of the project, and imagining the form/function/production of the monthly journals of the Field Press.

One very interesting thought today:talking with Libby Elwood about how difficult, really impossible, it has been to get people to talk at all about climate change, tho they will talk about any bit of nature at length and with passion.  How I consider this to be a real central failure of the primary mission of the project (tho it definately had too many missions, as usual for my work) …

Berry ink jubilee

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9th September

Berry inks:

Pokeberry (Concord roadside)

Elderberry (Sudbury backyard)

Beet (Gaining Ground)

Walking Ecologies redux

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9th September

Wednesday 4pm meet at the Field Station, walk with Cherrie Corey and I as we observe and learn about the ecosystem of the park.  What is witnessing?  What is observation?  How does seeing connect to us, to stories, to engagement, to change?

More on EAR1

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9th September

Here is a beautiful sound piece created by Brack Morrow and the EAR1 remote station at the Field Station last month.  It is primarily engaging with the Norway Spruce trees (known to be a good tonewood)…


Energy Exodus

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8th September

Last weekend, the Field Station marched with about a hundred people through the neighborhoods of Barnstable and down the strip mall byways of Hyannis to call on Mr. Koch to take his dirty money out of the resistance to Cape Wind.  See Energy Exodus


gifts, spruce balls, drawings

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6th September

Today Elspeth and I spent a bit of time at the Field Station.  Elspeth drew a picture of the Field Station–note the difference in the Hemlock and Norway Spruce trees!  Someone left us a little gift of big spruce ball…


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26th August

guests at the Field Station today

Final weeks

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25th August

Research is winding down at the Field Station this next month.  I will only be present one morning a week: Wednesday or Friday mornings.  If you want to find me, email ahead of time…

I’ll begin posting about the conjoined twin project that has been brewing for quite some time, now known as Field Press, an open field of dialog, production, and analogizing of the work of Field Station and the work of related thinkers, producers, studios, labs, and desks.


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20th August

Pokeberries and the purple ink.  Legend has it that civil war soldiers used Pokeberries to make ink to write their letters.  I wonder what they used for pens out in the fields?  Did the ink fade to brown while being read by their loved ones?


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19th August

today three little girls, their Mom, and I watched a cicada emerge from her shell and hang for a while on the Hemlock trunk bark.  The change in color, movement, and shape of this little creature emerging after its 17 year hibernation deep underground was really incredible to watch.  So amazing to imagine it just stuck in that stiff shell for so long–does it have any cognition, sensation at all?  Of course, how does it know how 17 years are up?  But even more amazing what is this world like after 17 years of frozen darkness?

goings on

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19th August

a day of conversations with moms and kids.  so many.  how do you talk to under 6 year olds about nature, climate change, etc?  You don’t.  You just be with them in their curiosities, follow them, ask questions, resonate.

a few gifts left in the Field Station this weekend: a little bundle of lawn flowers, wrapped so sweetly in a blade of grass…  another cicada shell.

the binoculars, which seemed to have been taken (stolen?) a few weeks ago, have returned.  Now there are two pairs.  Which is really better.  There are always at least two people who visit.  And they all, all love the binocs.

readings for a blind bird

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15th August

Judith Leemann came and read aloud for two and a half hours at the Field Station this late afternoon.  A few visitors wandered by and a few stayed to listen and work alongside Judith and I.  She read the first of two parts.  The second will occur in late September.  What happens when two artists with overlapping interests in ideas, language, making, meaning, and apophenia ally their practices?  What happens when two artists make side by side?  How is their work ampilfied, dislocated, or encumbered?  I will post the prints I made while Judith read shortly…

Ear1 Remote Field Station

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15th August

Brack Morrow brought his EAR1 Remote Unit to the Field Station yesterday and captured some beautiful sounds from the Norway Spruce trees hosting the Field Station.  He’s making a sound piece…  keep your ears out.

pigment charts

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15th August

bark/tree pigments

berry pigments

flower/earth pigments

gathered plants to print

new pigment charts grouped by type: bark/tree, berry, flower/earth

todo: inks from pokeberry, Walden Pond mud, celandine poppy, sycamore fruits

observations last week

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14th August

observations broadside 0808week

conversation drawing today

observations of protest, desire, cognitive behavior, future projects, adjacent trees, and more

Walking Ecologies now 9/11

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9th August

Walking Ecologies was rained out today, but we have rescheduled for Thursday September 11 at 4pm, only to be cancelled in the case of an extreme storm event…

Look at the sculpture park’s ecology through they eyes of Cherrie Corey’s to get a taste…



readings for a blind bird

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8th August

readings for a blind bird
Thursday August 15 4-6:30
A moment of intersection between two complementary practices, each its own kind of inquiry into how we as artists and citizens come to know our own ecologies.

Since 2009, Judith Leemann has been producing reading aloud at the intersection of her studio, research, and teaching practices. Passages of text are stripped of citational armor and fitted one into the next to generate recursive loops of almost-story. Over the course of fourteen weeks, a new twenty-minute episode is recorded and posted weekly.

As a guest to Jane Marsching’s Field Station Concordia, Leemann will read aloud from the most recent season of reading aloud, hairy about the heel: fables for the present. Of interest to both is the possibility of surfacing new understandings of ecology (and new ecologies of understanding) by allowing their practices to briefly collide.

Guests …

rain song

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7th August

Once my son wrote a song about me with the lyrics: “who doesn’t like to walk in the rain? Moommmyyyyy…” Well I am reformed. This Friday August 9 at 2pm, come to the deCordova and walk with me and Cherrie Corey, area naturalist, to discover what is there–its that simple. What grows there, how did it get there, what do we notice, what stories do we tell about our landscapes, and how are they changing?

2pm rain or shine.

I will have my wellies on.

Please join us.


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7th August

Kaila and Julie making prints

newly made Sumac and Weld inks

some prints from today

conversation drawing today

some things going on today at the Field Station:
Kaila and Julie made prints of leaves, roots, and cones
tested out the newly made Weld and Sumac inks
made quite a few new prints mostly of things left in the Field Station by visitors
talked to a lot of people (free Wednesdays brings tons of young kids and moms) and added a few things to the conversation drawing



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5th August

Field Talk this past week:  Erin Poor, Curatorial Associate at the deCordova and docent at the Gropius House took me on a tour of the house and grounds.  Puzzling to think about how the Bauhaus considered nature.  Some interesting thoughts here:

Through Gropius’s lectures and publications on the education of architects from this period, Anker brings to light his latent interest in the knowledge of biology, as a way for architects to resolve social, urban, and ecological issues that have emerged from the “miraculous potentialities of the machine” (p. 38). It was Gropius’s belief that because of capitalism, “our human greed has interfered with the biological cycle of human companionship which keeps the life of a community healthy” (p. 38). Paraphrasing Gropius, Anker explains his belief that an architect armed with the knowledge of biology should be capable of “evolving the …


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2nd August

Brayton Point Protest sign

Mill Brook earth mineral ink

Norway Spruce borer beetle and bark ink

08.01 additions to conversation drawing

Brayton Point

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31st July

Thoreau and I went to Somerset, MA, to participate in a protest demanding that Gov. Deval Patrick shut down the Brayton Point Coal Power Plant and replace it with renewable energy (and green jobs for the area).  In a bit of a hurry the evening before I made this sign and it was a great conversation starter for many people who came up to me to talk about their Thoreau, journal writer, radical humanist, nature writer, etc.  I hung it in the Field Station today and am thinking about making a companion poster about Brayton Point here at the Field Station on Friday that does the same thing, creates a conversation starter about the interconnectedness of Brayton Point, the Field Station, Concord/Lincoln, etc.  Stay tuned.

More about the action at Brayton Point: Globe, Wen Stephenson



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26th July

Went over to Gaining Ground today to harvest some Weld in full bloom to try to make a yellow lake pigment.  There is some Madder and Weld growing there from a previous farmer who planted a dye garden.  There isn’t a lot out there about making pigments, certainly not lake pigments, so we’ll see how this experiment goes.


new drawing

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26th July

The chalkboard as a conversation drawing is really working.  I start with a basic structure that outlines place and a few key elements, and then from there I add objects by drawing them during or after conversations with visitors.  Here is the drawing for the Hemlock Grove, just started.

Herbarium with the Hive

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22nd July

this week I did a project with 41 kids and 5 teachers in the deCordova summer program, the Hive.  We made a herbarium comprised of prints of all kinds of found objects (leaves, seeds, bottle caps, etc.) from 3 different microhabitats at the deCordova and printed them with Walnut ink I made for the group.  Later in the week we organized the 259 prints into categories and hung them around the Field Station to show everyone the collected portrait…

some of the categories:

Leaves that look like leaves
things from Alice’s garden
looks like Fireworks
scattered and light

check out the events page for more pics


notes and gatherings

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19th July

a story left in the latest Field Guide to Change, some collected objects in line to print, and a super hot week


super hot

a story left

Inks this week

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17th July

Buckthorn berries have been called an invasive, but who really knows what invasive means these days?  That language suggests objects and beings that belong and those that don’t along a lineage of ownership, shared identity, and centrality.  The issues with this kind of thinking run through so much these days, but in this case, what can they possibly mean?  Our climate is changing, so our backyards are changing.  What is there now may not be there in 20 or 50 years.  More so, what is there now most likely wasnt’ all there 50 years ago.  This Concordia landscape was more at a low of around 25% forest in Thoreau’s time, and now is more than 80%.  Trees and species that comprise and love the open fields, farmlands, and shrubs have little hope of finding a home now.  Species that find …

Field Guide to Change

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12th July

Field Guide 3 is more like a Field Notebook with an invitation to witness, record, and engage stories of changing ecologies


Field Talks: Jeff Cramer

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10th July

This week’s Field Talk was with Jeff Cramer, Curator of Collections at The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods in Lincoln.  Jeff is really one of the most prolific and thoughtful Thoreau scholars and his annotated Walden has been at the heart of my ongoing Thoreau reading this season…  We talked about where one can find Thoreau (in the places he wrote about, the objects he lived with, his books, or his manuscripts), about how paradoxical and unexpected he could be (not so much an environmentalist who wanted to save wilderness, but someone who wanted to create and preserve public lands that we all can have access to so as to be able to walk from here to there).  We looked at one of the three daguerreotypes taken of him for fans, a beam from his house at Walden, a scarlet …

moving to the grove

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10th July

Thanks to Brian and Dina for moving the Field Station to its new digs with me today.  This is a grove of fairly large Hemlocks and Douglas Firs, what I would have thought of as a fairy ring when I was younger.  Still might.





registering the wunderkammer

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9th July

have been thinking about how the deCordova and larger site of Concordia can be thought of as a world to be gathered into a Wunderkammer…  an archive of desire, travel, narrative, and remembering

meanwhile, printing as sketching continues

collected objects one morning

Poison ivy print

prints made by me and some students of mine from Massart

ink plans

Map of All New England Leaf Out Project Submissions

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7th July

At this point all of our Leaf Out observations for the year have been collected. A huge thanks once again to all who participated. As you can see from the map, folks from all over New England took part.

Final map for the New England Leaf Out Project

You can also interact with the map on the New England Leaf Out Project site.

Ink printing observations 70-100 today

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5th July

Adam printing some Oriental Bittersweet vines

what I foraged for printing today

Mit printing the dust on the parking lot asphalt

Lots of people coming by to print today, making beautiful images of various things: oriental bittersweet, wild carrot root and leaf, the dust on the asphalt, a sneaker print

raspberry ink

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5th July

wild black raspberries growing along parking lot median, got a few before the deer (who have been abundantly eating the Annual Sowthistle and other plants).  we’ll see  if this ink has more permanence than the last batch of juneberry ink

St Johnswort

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2nd July

collected to make ink.  steeping in hot water now.  Likely will just make a very weak yellowy green wash.


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1st July

the chalkboard this month has an complex drawing that evolves each week, including images of the parking lot, cottonwood tree, motor oil compound, carbon dioxide molecule, swamp sparrow, swamp cabbage, buckthorn, an SUV…

celandine poppy

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1st July

Laura Schreiber, weaver and natural dye maker, came by today to bring me some oak leaf sludge and oriental bittersweet sludge.  In her dye process its sludge, but for inks, its a perfect base for ink.  We walked around and she helped id lots and lots of plants, and found me some of this beautiful celandine poppy, with a brilliant orange sap in its stem that will be a great ink, tho in small quantities…

celandine poppy

Laura Schreiber

blue rotted birch trunk


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1st July

todays visitors:

hanging out in the sun on the vines right behind the Field Station–looks like a common garter snake

on a Virginia Creeper vine down the lot these coupling beetles–Japanese beetles???

Wen Stephenson quote on action

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30th June

If the reason for the personal change or action is to have an effect on the problem, as opposed to being just symbolic, which is still important, because there are some things you should do just because they are right, regardless if they are pragmatic.  But if you do feel morally compelled to try to have an effect on the problem, then there are other kinds of personal direct actions one can take, besides reducing ones carbon footprint.  If you arrive through your analysis that the only way to make a dent in this problem is through political change, then maybe there is a personal responsibility to engage politically.  To engage politically can mean lots and lots of things.  Its not just about being arrested.  I do think there is something to be said for finding what it is that …

Buckthorn for ink

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26th June

Lots of Buckthorn growing on the edge of the wetlands

  From the dried berries, a series of rich but fugitive colours is obtained; the berries used to be sold under the name of ‘French berries’ and imported with those of Rhamnus infectorius from the Levant. If gathered before ripe, the berries furnish a yellow dye, used formerly for staining maps or paper. When ripe, if mixed with gum-arabic and limewater, they form the pigment ‘Sap or bladder green,’ so well known to water-colour painters. The bark also affords a yellow dye..

Buckthorn berry juice contains Rhamnocathartin (which is yellowand uncrystallizable), Rhamnin, a peculiar tannic acid, sugar and gum. The fresh juice is coloured red by acids and yellow by alkalies, and has a bitter taste and nauseous odour. Its specific gravity should be between 1.035 and 1.070, but it is seldom …

printing today

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26th June

tho I was washed out by a thunderstorm, I printed these things today:
dandelion blower
white clover
Timothy grass
Red Fescue grass
unidentified grass
annual sowthistle
immature sumac leaves
2 different unidentified yellow flower plants
a cigarette butt
a purple scrunchie
a japanese candy wrapper

St. Johnswort 06/26

St. Johnswort

things collected near parking lot media

printing today

rained out

tufted vetch ink experiment

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21st June

gathered tufted vetch flowers from around the parking lot margins, boiled them for a few minutes, all the color disappeared and I have another light green ink.

Walking Walden to Brister’s Hill

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21st June

Wen Stephenson and I with Henry

walking down the path to Thoreau’s house site

looking at the entrance stone to Brister’s Hill path at Walden Woods

Wen reading from his late Mat essay in The Nation

Nathan Phillips (behind the hat) talking about a fossil free diet


Yesterday Wen Stephenson and I led a walking event taking a group of people from in front of the Thoreau House replica at Walden Pond, through the woods to the original Thoreau house site, and on to Brister’s Hill, where we spread out picnic blankets in the shade, listened to Wen read excerpts from his Nation essay and discussed what we thought radical looks like to each of us.


Here is a transcript of my introduction:

Choose two readers from the group to call and response style read this text:


June 13, 1858 / June 13, 2013

Thoreau’s journal / Google News

Kalmiana …

view of the parking lot site

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18th June

observations this week

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18th June

Observations this week: unidentified red berries, smooth sumac (will be good for dyes and lemonade parties), tufted vetch press prints and ink prints, coffee cups often left in the Station, and parking lot asphalt prints.


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18th June

Lots of visitors to the station today:
two bugs to identify
very curious people from Haiti/China who engaged in a long discussion about fossil fuels, national attitudes to nature, the “blinding” pace of economic growth, Thoreau, climate change, Dairy Joy, and art

WORK OUT opening

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15th June

an invitation to draw what you see

a red tailed hawk (?) circling and screeching over the Field Station

chalkboard drawing this week

Andi Sutton’s pink flamingo project


Elspeth in the Field Station

Fritz Haeg’s communal space

Andi Sutton talking about Assisted Flagration

Michael Swain talking about Tree University

Lovely afternoon for an opening picnic

Nuclear Metals Hemlock

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13th June

hemlock bark–red, orange, rust, brown

6/3 making the broadside today at FSC

6/3 observations from visit to Nuclear Metals Superfund site with Richard Primack

after a couple days in the solar cooker

At my visit with Richard Primack to Nuclear Metals Superfund site in West Concord, I gathered quite a bit of bark from a fallen Hemlock tree.  Hemlock’s have one of the highest concentrations of tannin in their bark, leading to over 70 million being felled in a few decades during the industrial era.  The remaining Hemlock’s have been blighted by the Woolly Adelgid insect.

Walk Walden

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12th June


Walk at Walden with Climate Writer/Activist Wen Stephenson and Jane D. Marsching
Join climate writer/activist Wen Stephenson and me in a walking event that reconsiders the radical politics of Thoreau in our time. Connect observation, environmental awareness, aesthetic action, and social change to the climate crisis now. We will walk from Walden Pond to Brister’s Hill nearby and as we do we will consider what is nature, what is changing, and what is radicalism today?
When: Thu June 20 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Where: meet at Walden Pond parking kiosk, Concord, MA

Wen Stephenson is a contributing writer for The Nation and writes frequently about climate, culture, and politics for Grist Magazine and The Boston Phoenix and he has written for Agni, Slate, The Atlantic, The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe’s Books and Opinion pages, and other publications. His Slate …

Field Guide 2

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12th June

Field Guide 2 released today

Field Guide 2: 400 Observations starting with CO2
In its current site, the museum parking lot, sandwiched between ornamental gardens and scrubby wetlands, the Field Station will collect 400 observations about objects in the socio-ecology.

This Field Guide is a mutating weekly one page book that begins as a designed entry form with data fields for participatory observing.  Each week observations collected in the parking lot here at the deCordova will fill the book.  In four weeks the final issue will be released: a map of this ecology, its interconnections, objects, stresses, and resiliencies.

Join us in observing and mapping our place.

cottonwood pods and new greenfields photographs

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11th June


labor and experience

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7th June

Ever since Susan Gallagher talked with me about Thoreau’s Economy chapter being a send up (or fuck you) of the prevailing economic proposal and labor practices of the time, I’ve been mulling over Thoreau’s privileging of experience over productivity and thinking about how relevant that is today, more so.  Also trying to connect that to aesthetics, witnessing, and climate change.

Some relevant ideas on this:

“To understand these possibilities, it may be helpful to think briefly about the intertwined history of labor and landscape. Perhaps more than other forms of design, labor and landscape are co-generators of one another.  Human behaviors and landscape processes feedback on one another, as the literal liveliness of the materials used to construct landscapes — most obviously, plants, but also animals, fungi, bacteria, insects, and even inanimate substances like sediments, soils, and water which nonetheless possess aggregate …


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6th June

Views looking out the window and out the back of the field station in the parking lot site.  greenfield and greyfield.  what do we know about what comprises these seemingly homogenous fields?

Detroit at the DeCordova

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6th June

The Field Station in its new digs smack in the middle of the parking lot at the DeCordova.  A far cry from the quiet bucolic scene pondside.  Despite nearly being taken out by a minivan driving, cell phone talking woman, the Field Station will be collecting 400 observations from people, objects, species, times, ingredients, and interconnections in this greyfield ecology in the next month.

Come join the collecting effort through making prints of objects found in the area, creating an ecological index, and discovering key questions we all have about our changing landscape.

Voltaire and activism

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5th June

words that echo Field Station precepts:


We Must Cultivate Our Garden.
the last line of Voltaire’s Candide, 1759

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence …

On the banks of Flint’s Pond

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31st May

Last days at Flint’s Pond.  Has been such a pleasure to watch the season change over in this quiet glade, so idyllic and nineteenth century.  Next week we move to the gritty liminal space on the edge of the parking lot greyfield and a scrubby wetland in the bright sun.

Stinging Nettles and info on mordants

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29th May

Today I visited Cherrie Corey’s garden and we gathered stinging nettles from all around her garden.  Now I am boiling the leaves and roots separately, with no mordants right now.  If this doesnt work, I’ll try a copper mordant with the leaves and maybe tin with the root…


Some good info I found while researching stinging nettle root dyes:

Mordants: water-soluble chemicals, usually metallic salts, which create a bond between dye and fiber thus increasing the adherence of various dyes to the item being dyed

Brightens the colors obtained from a dye source

Darkens/saddens hues, produces blacks, brown, gray

Copper vitriol
Improves likelihood of obtaining a green hue

Produces bright colors especially yellows, oranges, reds

6.15.13 Work Out Opening Reception

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27th May

Field Station Concordia is part of:

Work Out

at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
The deCordova is proud to present its inaugural outdoor exhibition Work Out. Artists have been invited to create alternative, sustainable engagements with the landscape in the Sculpture Park. By straddling the line between functionality and metaphor, these projects ultimately propose art as a prototype for better living. WORK OUT features four new commissions by FutureFarmers, Fritz Haeg, Andi, Sutton, and myself

There are lots of great events as part of each project, including my own.

OPENING: Saturday, June 15th, 2 – 5 PM
2 PM Tour with Curators and Artists
3 – 5 PM Courtyard Gathering

All events that day are open to the public and free with $15 admission for non-museum members. There will be food trucks and other local purveyors. Rain Date: Sunday, June 16, 2 – 5 PM

51 Sandy Pond …

ink plant search

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21st May

some plants to make ink out of:

Madder    dig pencil thick roots anytime,

Weld, July
Dyers Knotweed (at Gaining Ground?)
Japanese Knotweed?Stinging Nettle
Shaggy Ink Cap mushrooms
Oak Galls
Woad, after the leaves reach about six inches in length, June or July
Goldenrod, late summer
buckthorn berries

lots of good stuff on native american dye sources here

more dye plants
Sumac berries and leaves (blueblack)



Kayleigh Boyle, Gaining Ground

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17th May

Yesterday’s field talk was at Gaining Ground with Farmer Kayleigh Boyle.  Gaining Ground’s mission is to both grow food for hunger relief (300,000 pounds of food given to food pantries from South End to Concord) and through their volunteer program (filled with kids, locals, people with disabilities, anyone who wants to help) educate and engage people on issues of hunger, activism, farming, and ecology.  The farm is located at Thoreau Farm, right in the backyard of Thoreau’s birthplace, which Thoreau’s parents farmed until he was four.  They also planted a replica of Thoreau’s kitchen garden that he planted for the Hawthorne’s at the Manse in central Concord.  This is a fascinating mashup of Thoreau Scholars (the Thoreau Society has offices here) working, a replica of the room Henry was born in, and the farm.  Thoreau’s legacy of radically and urgently …

Richard Primack

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16th May

Richard Primack came by to visit the Field Station yesterday and we saw this lovely wild columbine right on the wall by the solar cooker…  I have been working with Richard on his New England Leaf Out Project.  Matthew Shanley and I worked with Richard and Libby Elwood to create an online platform for citizen scientists to submit their observations of when 11 species of trees leaf out in their neighborhoods.  Richard will be able to use this data to understand more about how we can use satellite images to study leaf out (we are essentially ground truthing those satellite images), and of course fit this piece into the larger puzzle that he has been working on for quite some time, comparing seasonal change across many species, trees, plants, butterflies, etc.,  from Thoreau’s time and the observations of all the …

Solar Cooker Ink

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15th May

finally got the solar cooker up and running and the sun disappeared behind some clouds.  Hopefully tomorrow will work.  Need to make some reflectors to increase the solar energy.  measure and plan tomorrow…  bring cardboard for mockup…

birch bark steeping in solar oven May 2013

desk, May 2013

Deb leaf printing

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13th May

Artist, tinkerer, and collaborator Deb Todd Wheeler came over to the Field Station today to inspire and make leaf prints from walnut, elm, and pine inks…

early leaf print from walnut ink April 2013

deb todd wheeler ink drawing May 2013


Uncategorized. Comments Off on Visitors

12th May

There are really a a lot of ways you can enjoy the Field Station, even when you are a few weeks old.


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8th May

The view from the Field Station today…  Thoreau wanted to build his house on Flint’s Pond, but Mr. Flint would not give permission, so he built it on Walden Pond…  Perhaps he might have chosen this same spot??

Radical action

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1st May

Wen Stephenson, climate activist, writer will be coming to the Field Station to walk Walden Pond in the footsteps of Thoreau’s radical political will, rhetoric, and action on June 20 at 1pm.  In the meantime, he has written this powerful essay on Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and its relevance to our urgent moment on the Thoreau Society blog.

Liam’s Tree

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18th April

Liam drew this tree for the Field Station


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1st March

magenta artificial – brown natural  ???


Glycerin as a Preservative

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7th February

“It is also used in the production of watercolor paints, printing inks, and cosmetics.”

“extracts made from Vegetable Glycerine typically have a shelf life of 14-24 months whereas alcohol extracts can have an extended shelf life of 4-6 years.”

“You can make a simple, herbal glycerite by simmering herbs in a mixture of 60% glycerine and 40% purified water for two to three hours. We have generally used about 1/4 cup of cut and sifted, dried herbs per 1 cup of glycerine/water solution. When you strain this solution, bottle it and store it in a cool, dark place. It retains its effectiveness for two to three years.”


“It seems that you can use glycerin as a preservative when you use 50% glycerin or more in a product.”

” foot lotion recipe with 25% glycerin, and it feels great on my feet…but it feels awful on other …

more ink recipes

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4th February

iron gall ink

walnut ink   black walnut ink

butternut ink

lamp black ink

fermented pokeberry ink

shaggy ink cap ink  more about the mushrooms

other wood/berry/dyes


bring in: 100 proof vodka, cornstarch, ethanol, salt





Broadside: Narrative formats

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3rd February

image 1 image 2 image 3 image 4 image 5 image 6

thickening ink

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3rd February


PLUS-9090 is basically ink that contains certain inert or opacifying materials with no pigment. It is clear (creamy color) ink base that can be added to plastisol to extend the ink and get more volume out of the ink.Since Extender Base is a balanced ink – any amount can be added to plastisol. The more Extender Base added, the less opaque the ink will be.

Although Extender Base will make an ink less opaque, it is generally not used to specifically make an ink more transparent. For that purpose see TRANSPARENT BASE. It is designed more as a “bulking” agent and will basically provide more mileage from an ink at a lower cost because Extender Base is less expensive than pigment ink. If used to make an ink more transparent to print color-over-colore, the secondary color achieved may not be …

Lets Get Rusty

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1st February

If you want to make metal rust faster…

Method 1:

“Wet down entire piece with chlorine bleach, sprinkle lightly with salt, and allow to sit until it dries. Spray the piece with water, but lightly so the dried salt/bleach mixture doesn’t rinse off. Just wet the surface down. Let sit overnight.

The next morning, mix up a pint of FRESH hydrogen peroxide (standard 3% stuff found at drug stores) with a tablespoon of muriatic acid. Spray this mixture onto the piece. Allow to dry. Once dry, spray once more with this mixture. Let sit overnight.

Next morning, rinse completely with clean water, and you should have a decent rust by now. If there are areas that need more rusting, go back to step 5. Once you are happy with this rust, let it sit for a few days, lightly wetting the surface with water …

to thicken ink or not to thicken ink?

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1st February

Try using cornstarch, boil off excess water, leave ink out in air to evaporate(stir occasionally), extender base will thicken and make more transparent, pva glue( dries flexible, acid free), magnesium carbonate, molasses, ground chalk,


ink research from Abby, fall 2012

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1st February

How to make pigments + suggested plants –> color combinations:
Ferns with tannic acid: all wood/male ferns–
tannic acid is found in these ferns’ rhizomes (at the bottom of the page)


how to quickly make rust




For tannic acid:
Blue black color: oak, chestnut, sumac, mountain ash, and cherry trees
Green color: Hemlock and pine trees (can also collect from mimosa, birch, quebracho, and alder)
Horse chestnuts
Pomegranate rinds
Bearberry leaves
Fern rhizomes

For iron sulfate:
Iron scraps, nails, etc.

For pigments:
Bricks, colored glass, pottery, rust scrapings
Can also experiment with berries (see tannic acid above)
— Anything that can be pulverized, is insoluble (so it won’t react negatively to the binder), and free of organic matter than can decompose or rot
— Further instructions, and step-by-step guides, from this site:

How much to collect?
I am going to assume we want 100g of ink to begin with, and assuming ink has approximately the same …

Nuclear Metals images

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30th January

thinking of using the site shape as the form for the front and back of the sandwich board.  wonky, difficult, and awkward.

MA Historical Society Broadsides

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28th January

Some different styles of Broadsides showing an advertisement, information, and the Declaration of Independence. Each have a different format considering what type of information it is displaying.

MA Historical Society Collection of Broadsides


Library of Congress: Advertisement Broadsides

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28th January

Some examples of strictly advertisement based broadsides from the Library of Congress. The first one is asking for men to enlist in the army, the second and third are play bills.

To be noted for their formatting of the information.

Library of Congress Collection of Broadsides


Library of Congress: Foreign Broadsides

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28th January







Library of Congress Collection of Broadsides



Library of Congress: Balloon Ride Broadsides

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28th January

Library of Congress Collection of Broadsides

Duke: Informative Broadsides

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28th January

Duke Collection of Broadsides

Duke: Poem Broadsides

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28th January

Duke Collection of Broadsides


Duke: Advertisement Broadsides

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28th January

Duke Collection of Broadsides


Duke: Information Data Broadsides

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28th January


Notable aspects:
-table and column display of information
-no decorative aspects, only presenting facts

Duke Collection of Broadsides

Duke: Army Graft Broadsides

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28th January

Notable aspects:
-use of image/decoration

Duke Collection of Broadsides

What is a Broadside?

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28th January

The historical type of broadsides were ephemera (temporary documents created for a specific purpose and intended to be thrown away.)
They were one of the most common forms of printed material between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly in Britain, Ireland and North America.

Alternate definition: side of a ship; the battery of cannon on one side of a warship; or their simultaneous (or near simultaneous) fire in naval warfare.

Broadsides usually were for:
-news information
-text of ballads

Current uses of the word ‘Broadside’ :
– a comic called Broadside
– George Mason University official student weekly
– transformers character
– bookshop
– tvshow

Massachusetts Historical Society
Library of Congress
Duke University
Brown University
American Antiquarian Society
Harvard Law



Sketching a visualization

1st December

One of our ongoing challenges with this project is developing visual presentations to explain complex issues. Climate change is an overwhelming, scary concept. The web of plants and animals interacting in an ecosystem quickly gets tangled in complexity. Trying to cram all this into your head at the same time, and even understand it well enough to think about how climate change might affect the ecosystem… well that can seem like sheer lunacy.

But this doesn’t have to be impossible. We know that we can take in incredibly complex amount of information visually. A trend we might labor to decipher in a column of numbers sticks out like a sore thumb when seen as a graph. We also know that interaction is a powerful tool when learning about behaviors and relationships. The ability to manipulate something while observing how its responds …


18th August

One of the things we want to use this space for is sharing resources that have inspired us or that we’ve found useful. I think it’s fitting to lead off that series with eBird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.

eBird is a revolutionary citizen-science project that was an inspiration for Field Station from the start. A vast community of birders uses the eBird website to enter their observations. The submissions are reviewed and the data combined with many years of past reports from all across the continent.

eBird’s goal is to maximize the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of bird observations made each year by recreational and professional bird watchers. It is amassing one of the largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resources in existence. For example, in March 2012, participants reported more than 3.1 million bird …